Okay, so my predictions on the scores and how things would play out were a little off but three out of four ain’t bad, right?
I figured the Packers and Broncos would score more and the Seahawks and Ravens would score less. Other than that the only real surprise was the Colts beating up on a horribly inaccurate Peyton Manning and the Broncos to hand them their second one-and-done playoff appearance in three years.
Let’s start with the (non)catch in Green Bay. There should be no doubt, no comparisons and no backlash. This was not a catch by Dez Bryant. How do I know? Because in Week #1 of the 2010 NFL season, Calvin Johnson caught what should have been the winning TD pass at Soldier Field at the end of regulation. The refs ruled it incomplete. After Johnson caught it he went to the ground and as he got up he tossed the ball away while still on the ground. This was interpreted as the Going-to-the-Ground rule but after that was famously known as the Calvin Johnson Rule. Following that game the NFL made a clear, deliberate and detailed explanation of what has to transpire for it to be a completed catch. It has been on record for over four years and there is no denying it. I didn’t agree with the rule then and I don’t agree with the rule now but for all intents and purposes, it is undisputable. No catch. This is nothing like last week against the Lions when one ref picked up another one’s flag and reversed a pass interference call. This was a play reviewed in the booth and on the field from every angle and deemed incomplete with a detailed rule to back it up. End of story. It’s probably one of the few times in these playoffs that the NFL actually did something right.
A lot of speculation in Denver about Peyton Manning’s future today. Broncos O-Coordinator Adam Gase is rumored for a couple of head coaching jobs and Peyton may choose to follow him or even retire instead of learning another new playbook at this stage of his career. He told the media he needs to process the loss before he decides on his future. A bunch of people predicted the Colts would win yesterday but nobody knew Peyton would look this bad. He was missing receivers by 10 yards and throwing the ball up instead of airing it out. There is a report today saying he has been playing with a torn quad which explains some of the physical mistakes but none of the mental ones. He picked the worst time to be off his game. I give full credit to Luck and the Colts for taking advantage and wish them well at Foxborough next weekend but I’m not over confident of that outcome. Either way, the Colts have taken the next step and with the AFC in such a shambles right now they are in a great spot to carry on.
I need help with this one. Can someone explain to me how the Buffalo Bills felt it was a good idea to hire Rex Ryan on a five year contract worth $27.5 million? He is coming off a 4-12 season which was preceded by seasons of 8-8, 6-10 and 8-8 with the Jets. In those last four seasons his defenses never ranked higher than 19 in points allowed! The past three years his offenses have been ranked 28, 29, 28 in points scored! He ran Mark Sanchez out of town by letting him get killed on the field and then in the media and had Geno Smith on the same course. The Bills are in the exact same position now that Kyle Orton has retired so unless they can magically bring in a veteran QB who knows how to win (because those are so readily available), the Bills are in a position to regress from this season’s 9-7 to 4-12 in 2015 (where it seems Ryan is comfortable and maybe can convince the Dolphins to pay him $8-million a season to coach there). This is the worst example of the NFL recycling coaches not because they were successful, but because they have recognizable names. When the Lions hired Jim Caldwell I felt somewhat comfortable because they weren’t getting the former Indy head coach coming directly off his 2-14 season. They were getting the Ravens O-Coordinator who had won a Superbowl the prior season, an O-Coordiantor with the Colts who had won a Superbowl in 2007 and then took that team back to the Superbowl as a head coach in 2010. I wasn’t even entirely sold on Caldwell until he announced his O & D Coordinators would both be first timers in those positions (Joe Lombardi and Teryl Austin respectively). That was when I realized he is smart enough to bring in young innovators that wouldn’t just try and recycle the same old system. The Bills are doing exactly that and as Ian O’Connor wrote on ESPN’s website, by taking that job he has basically guaranteed his next firing. Fortunately for him, because of the Bills ridiculous offer, he will be getting paid a lot of money for a long time. Way to go Buffalo.
I read that Cowboys D-Coordinator Rod Marinelli may be heading to Tampa to work for Lovie Smith. I always shudder when I hear Marinelli’s name as he was the Lions head coach during the 2008 season when they infamously went 0-16. His career path has been tied to Lovie’s for a long time. They were coaches in Tampa in the early 2000s before Marinelli became the Lions head coach and then after he was fired he went to work for Lovie in Chicago as his D-Coordiantor before landing in Dallas a few years ago. Coming off a somewhat successful season in Dallas and with his track record I would figure he would be pushing for an extension there but I think he knows the Cowboys D is not looking good next year while Tampa’s is on the rise. Plus, Tampa was 2-14 this season so it’s impossible for them to be any worse. Right?
Apparently the Bears are looking at Gary Kubiak for their head coaching vacancy. Kubiak was the head coach in Houston in 2013 when Matt Schaub famously imploded and the Texans ended the season on a 14-game losing streak (they started 2-0). Again, I think it’s funny when a team with such a defensive mess looks at hiring an offensive minded head coach especially when their QB situation is anything but set. They need to trade or release coach-killer Cutler before he sets this franchise back a decade. He wouldn’t run Trestman’s offense properly and Trestman paid the price (funny enough, Trestman is rumored to be the next O-Coordinator in Tampa under Lovie Smith). With the Bears being the Lions arch-enemy, their futility makes me happy but I hate seeing the legacies of Mike Ditka and Walter Payton tarnished and I’m sorry to see such a storied franchise in turmoil because of the wrong personnel moves. I’d like to see some bad personnel moves made in Green Bay so the Lions could win a division for once.
Next weekend we have Colts versus Patriots and Packers versus Seahawks. I’ve got to go Pats by 3 and Seahawks by 6. Two close games setting the stage for a Patriots/Seahawks Superbowl.